Sunday, January 31, 2010

Winter-warming color

When I first came to the United States, I hated the cold. I lived for the 3-4 weeks in the summer when it was hot and humid. I loved the crispness of the fall but it presaged the cold, dark winter so I didn't welcome it. Over the decades, my body has changed 180 degrees. I like the cold and dislike the heat. Spring and fall are my favorite seasons but given the choice between summer and winter, I prefer winter. Very strange, I know, but that is the way it is.

The only problem with the winter is the lack of color. I love crisp white snow but most of the time, it doesn't last. The trees are bare and brown, the grass is brown, the only color comes from the sky, the houses and the evergreen trees. All in all, it is rather dull and not very inspiring. At such times, I love color in my clothes, in my knitting and even in my food. A salad with carrots, tomatoes, multi-colored peppers and celery is like sunshine on a grey day.

Unfortunately, I am currently knitting a white garment so my color needs are being met by books and by yarn in my stash right now. I am sharing some recent acquisitions with you to bring that color to you to warm your heart and your eyes.

I missed Magnificent Mittens when it was first published because I wasn't into mittens then. Therefore, I was very thrilled to see it republished with some new patterns. It has gorgeous designs in it. Anna Zilboorg is a wonderful knitter and designer. I had the privilege of sitting next to her at a Stitches East many moons ago and was impressed by her, even though I didn't know who she was at the time. She is a lovely, warm and articulate person. I jumped at the chance to aquire the new paperback version.
Keeping with the theme of this post, here are some of the colorful designs in it. The designs can be adapted for socks and hats as well as mittens but the stranded work makes warm and windproof mittens.Another book that I ignored when it was first published is Handknit Holidays. In general, I don't buy pattern books unless they have some significant technique sections in them. Handknit Holidays has a wide variety of unusual patterns but nothing that attracted me at the time. However, times change...
A friend of mine made the Swedish Heartwarmer Shawl from Handknit Holidays and I fell in love. It is colorful and has incredible depth of color due to the handpainted yarns used in it.
It starts off plain and then switches to a stranded set of borders. Again, the stranded colorwork adds warmth and heft to the shawl. The images are also inspiring in the winter - suns, roses, wavy vines and stars.
Once I got the book, I started looking around for sales on the yarn. I was fortunate in finding a couple that had the colors used in the shawl. For a change, I am going to make this exactly as written so I am kitting it up!
The yarn is sock weight yarn from Mountain Colors. It is called Bearfoot and is a combination of superwash wool and mohair. For a shawl, this is durable and warm. I am starting to become a fan of sock yarn for shawls because of the nylon content. I am a klutz and I have holes in two lace shawls already. So durability and strength in the yarn is a good thing.I end this with a close-up of the colors to warm you up. If you are in a warm place and don't need any warming-up, use it to warm your heart and mind, if not your body!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

The frog is done!

I didn't post last week as I had no news to report. But today is different! I finished the froggy scarf and it is lovely. It has l-o-n-g tails which I tried to show you by this 'artistic' layout. The pattern is 22.5 degrees which makes a short shawl with long tails. I like this because it can be worn as a scarf under a jacket as well as a shoulder shawl.I ran out of the main color because I wasn't paying attention to the number of repeats. I did one more than I should have, and with that width, it used up a lot of yarn. I didn't want to undo it - again due to the number of sts in each row - so I found another yarn in a similar color and weight and did the edging with that. I was hoping for more of a contrast but all the contrast colors I had didn't make the main color 'pop'. So I stuck to matching rather than contrasting. There are a few extra colors in the edging - a blue and a brighter yellow. I like the effect. This is what it looks like, if I'm wearing it.
Here is a close-up showing the difference in the texture and colors. Just a hint of color and texture, right? The main yarn is Kashmir by the Woolen Rabbit. The edging is Koigu KPPPM.This is the back. I love the scalloped edge and it is so easy to do. The designer has a Youtube video demonstrating the technique. Easy-peasy!
I am working on another secret project right now so I won't be beginning a new project or finishing up Stor Rund Dug right away. But my next project after that will be born of necessity.
I have carpal tunnel syndrome and wear wrist braces at night. They get disgusting and aren't easy to wash. When I complained about this early on, my doctor suggested I cut holes in tube socks and wear them under the liners. They can be washed more easily and absorb the sweat and skin oils that make the braces smell.

Being a knitter, I immediately thought of finger-less gloves. I had to make them longer to fit the liners completely. Here is my current collection. I can wash a pair every few days and always have another pair ready to go. They work really well.
Unfortunately, because they take a lot of washing and wearing, they eventually end up looking like this...and this...Which means I have to knit new pairs to replace them. I use Elann Esprit which is a cotton/elastic sock yarn. The cotton is very absorbent and cool and the elastic keeps the liners in shape after washing. As you can see, despite all the wear, they still look shapely. One ball makes a pair so I have 3 more balls left for the new batch. I had originally bought 2 balls of each color as I wasn't sure how much I would need.

It is boring knitting - imagine making 6 mittens all the same! But it goes quickly and I love the result. I also only have to do it every 3 or 4 years.

As Elizabeth Zimmermann said, Knit On!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

A correction, and only a little progress

Apparently the shawl I'm knitting looks grey rather than green. I tried to fix the photo a bit to make it more representative of the true color. It is a greyish green with a lot of yellow in it also. I like the color a lot. It is very soft and I think it will go with a lot of outfits.I have been knitting a bit on it but from a photographic perspective, there is not much to add. It still looks exactly like this photograph, excep tthat there are some more rows. I think that till I get to the scallops, it is going to be very un-photogenic. Oh well.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Mindless simple knit

I started a simple scarf while I was traveling. The key criterion was that I needed to be able to memorize the pattern as I didn't want to pay to print it in the hotel. 22.5 degrees by Martina Behm fit the bill perfectly. The most important thing about this particular scarf is the yarn. It is a cashmere blend from the Woolen Rabbit and it is yummy to knit with and will be yummy to wear.

It is slow going now as there are a lot of stitches on the needles. The scarf is knit from the center back down and finished with a very lovely row of scallops. But I'm not there yet.
Here is a close-up of the fabric. The garter st blends the colors and it is soft and cuddly.
I am enjoying knitting this but I have to admit that I'm bored so I only knit it when I need something mindless e.g. at a New Year's Eve party.